The Jones Act — Unearned Wages

Under the Jones Act and general maritime law, a seaman who is injured in the course and scope of his employment may recover “unearned wages,” i.e., the wages he would have earned if he were able to continue working until the end of the voyage. Unearned wages may include overtime, bonuses, and other employment benefits.

If an employer does not automatically pay unearned wages to an injured seaman, the seaman must file a lawsuit against the employer in order to recover the wages. In such an action, the seaman is not required to prove that the employer was negligent or that the vessel was unseaworthy. The seaman need only prove that he was injured in the course and scope of his employment.

A seaman may recover unearned wages in addition to maintenance and cure benefits and any damages he recovers due to the employer’s negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel.